As Connecticut residents planned for Independence Day celebrations last week, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) prepared to implement a new law aimed at standardizing administrative penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) and related offenses. Taking effect on July 1, the new measure addresses both the DMV’s administrative suspension of drivers’ licenses and the subsequent installation of ignition interlock devices, or IIDs. Criminal conviction on DUI charges may result in additional penalties, as the new law focuses on the efforts of the DMV rather than criminal courts.
Administrative Per Se Suspensions
Under Connecticut law, any driver operating a motor vehicle is assumed to have given consent to chemical testing for blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Based on such implied consent, the DMV is empowered by the state to issue administrative penalties in several scenarios. An individual’s driver’s license will be suspended for:
- Refusing a chemical test requested by a law enforcement officer;
- Failing a chemical test: results of .08 or higher for drivers 21 and older, or .02 or higher for drivers under 21; or
- Conviction of Operating Under the Influence.
The new law provides that all DMV administrative per se suspensions for refusing or failing a chemical test shall be enforced for 45 days. Previously, suspensions were at least 90 days, and could be much longer based on the driver’s age and suspension history. Penalties issued by criminal courts may still result in longer suspensions, or complete revocation of driving privileges depending on a driver’s previous convictions.
Ignition Interlock Devices
While the length of a mandatory DMV suspension has been reduced under the new law, the application of IIDs has become much stricter. Any driver subject to such a suspension must now have an IID installed in his or her vehicle prior before driving privileges will be restored. This includes drivers who enter diversionary programs, including the Alcohol Education Program, which formerly exempted participants from having to use IIDs.
A first-time offender must continue to use an IID, which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver’s breath contains unacceptable levels of alcohol, for at least six months following the suspension. Drivers under 21 and those under suspension for refusing a chemical test must use the IID for one year. Subsequent offenses increase the mandatory IID period, up to a three-year requirement. Based on the circumstances of the case, a criminal conviction may result in longer IID requirements as well.
Legal Help for Your Case
Any time a new law takes effect, a period of adjustment typically follows as residents, law enforcement, and the designated agencies must acclimate to the updated requirements. If you are facing a DMV administrative per se suspension, or any other DUI-related matters, contact an experienced Hartford criminal defense attorney at the Woolf Law Firm, LLC. We will review your case, help you understand your options under the law, and work with you to minimize the negative impact to your future. Call 890-290-8690, or toll free at 800-923-0557, today to schedule a consultation.